While it may not feel like it at the moment, spring will come again. But when it comes, will you be ready to take advantage of the sunnier weather? Is your picnic hamper clean and ready for action. Will you have a nice surprise come springtime or will you find something not fit to put food in.
Of course, if you don’t clean a picnic hamper properly before you put it away, what may greet you come the first picnic-worthy day of spring may be a horrible mess. This especially applies if you have one of those plastic insulated hampers that keep food chilled (the sort the Australians call Eskies) and also, to some extent, to the old-fashioned wicker hamper lined with cloth.
The horrible mess is likely to be mould and mildew, and there is nothing for it but to swab it out with neat vinegar and expose it to strong sunshine, or even to get a new wicker picnic hamper if it’s gone too far and the mildew has got into the wood. Bad luck – remember to clean the new one out before you put it away.
To clean out a wicker picnic hamper, you have two main jobs. The first is to clean out any smears, while the second is to clean out any crumbs. Wicker hampers don’t have quite as many problems with mould and mildew, as the wicker provides preventative ventilation, but it can happen if you give bacteria and mould spores something to grow on. The first step is to turn the hamper upside-down and give it a good shake to get the worst of the crumbs out. If you have a cloth lining inside the hamper, see if it comes out. If it does, you’re in luck. Just give it a quick spin in the washing machine on the gentle cycle or else hand wash it. If it doesn’t, your first step is to use the vacuum cleaner to suck out the loose crumbs that linger in the seams. You can do this task when doing your weekly domestic cleaning.
Next, deal with the smears. Use a sponge dipped in warm soapy water to get rid of jam, etc. However, if some idiot spilled sardines on the inside, you may need to use a scrubbing brush and more soap. Sprinkle baking soda inside the hamper to absorb smells, then brush or vacuum this out when it’s dried. Use the sponge and scrubbing brush method for cleaning smears out of a wicker picnic basket with no lining (crumbs won’t be much of a problem).
To clean the plastic insulated type of picnic basket, the easiest way is to half fill it with warm water and a little of whatever you use to wash the dishes with. Then just wash the inside out with a dish-brush, then rinse as normal. It’s after this part that the real fun begins. It’s a nice, airtight, insulated container, and if you shut the lid and tuck it away with the slightest bit of moisture in, you will be faced with hideous orange slime next time you open it. Or brown slime. Or grey slime. So it’s vital to dry it out thoroughly before storing it.
Storing this type of plastic picnic hamper also has to be done properly. It’s best not to store it with the lid fully closed just in case you haven’t got all of the moisture out. Wedge a bit of newspaper under the lid to raise it slightly. This will prevent dust and dirt falling in but will provide ventilation. Alternatively, store it upside-down with the lid off. If you store it right way up with the lid off, then you may have to dust it out before the next picnic – but a damp rag will fix that without any trouble.
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